Because sometimes the book the world needs, would never make a bestseller list.
Sometimes Illness Wins
a Guide to Understanding and Living with Grief
A picture book for all ages about navigating the loss of someone special. Written with the distraught brain in mind.
There are lots of blank spaces in this book. Everyone does grieving a little differently. This book is about the general process, but it's also about just you. Add your experience in the blank spaces, in the margins, on the cover, anywhere you want. And scribble out anything that doesn't apply. Everybody's experience is a little different and we should all help each other anyway. Find what you need and go with that.
(That's publishing industry soon, not internet soon.)
Apple Tree Altar
The Wheel of the Year from a plant's perspective. The old apple tree, a crone, and her garden celebrate the pagan holidays together.
All dragons are born tiny, Chester stayed that way. As his one gold coin gets traded for food and finery, Chester travels along with it.
Carrie Black runs a 1/2 acre mini-farm and pretty much always has dirt under her fingernails. She believes in extremely dark chocolate, perfectly ripe berries, and the curative powers of other humans delighted to see you.
Beck Bowles, LCSW. Completed a Masters degree in Social Work in 2017 at the University of Utah, where she studied forensic and aging social work. She is a clinician working private practice in Holladay, Utah, and is passionate about helping people heal. She is an advocate for mental health awareness, access, and removing the stigma around mental health treatment.
Kindra Fehr is an artist, teacher, podcaster, mommy, and wife. Her work often explores life, journey, death, transcendence, and spirituality using the metaphor of a paper airplane. She earned a BFA in drawing/painting from the University of Utah, has studied at the Lacoste School of the Arts in France, and has exhibited her work nationally and internationally.
Aria Hancock is a 16-year-old artist from Salt Lake City, Utah. Her art has been in several exhibitions, in soon to be released video games, and sold through RedBubble. Aria loves dragons, animation, video games, and books. She's on the path to be a professional animator as a career.
Because sometimes the book the world needs, would never make a bestseller list.
Why does Filling the Gap Publishing exist? In 2017 Carrie's daughter, Adeline, was preparing to apply to Art School. She wanted to be an illustrator and what better way to show off your illustrator ambitions than with a picture book? Adeline was also in the hospital at the time. Chester's Hoard was written in the hours it took to drive to and from the hospital twice a day. On good days Adeline worked on concept art. When Adeline died in 2018, with Chester's Hoard unfinished, Carrie knew finishing her daughter's book would be an integral part of the grieving process. Carrie also found herself being given a lot of books about grieving. None of them were as helpful as they could have been. So she wrote the book she wished someone had been able to give her, Sometimes Illness Wins. Every editor and agent she pitched it to wanted Sometimes Illness Wins for themselves, but a picture book for grieving adults and children, didn't fit within their publishing areas. Turns out, sometimes the book the world needs, would never make a bestseller list. So here we are, filling the gaps.
2766S Adams St
South Salt Lake City, UT
Regarding: “Sometimes Illness Wins” I wanted to thank you for creating a book that addresses mental and physical illness equally and without bias. I have found this book to be beautifully honest, gentle, and forthright. It validates the emotional impacts of the process of treatment for illness and the fact that there are times when there are no more treatment options. No judgment. It doesn’t hide feelings through religion or metaphor. It says truths that might be hard to hear, but these truths are often what grieving people need to hear or read. This is validating.
This book weaves the helpers into the very fabric of it. It normalizes the idea that we may need help at any stage of the grief – anticipatory or following the death. It also highlights the wide range of helpers who are out there. This validates the idea that different people need different types of support. This is a message that needs to be stated over and over again.
“Sometimes Illness Wins” fills a void in the grief support literature. I am very grateful to have it as a resource.
-Kristen C. Quinn, CMHC, CCLS, Psychosocial Program Coordinator Burn Center
Sometimes Illness Wins is a beautiful, comprehensive guide to grief, perfect for young and old alike. You can feel the emotion poured into this book with every page turn. It leaves me with tears in my eyes and a warm feeling in my heart every time I read it.
- Leah C.
Sometimes Illness Wins achieves something incredible by explaining grief and how to process it in a way that's clear and simple enough for children, yet poignant and honest enough for adults to benefit and learn from as well. It presents a healthy, well-informed, and emotionally intelligent approach to accepting the fact that life isn't fair, and that despite that, there is hope. The charming illustrations are a joy to look at and truly enhance the messages of each page of text. What's more, it doubles as a sort of therapeutic workbook, with spaces for you or your child to fill in your own feelings and experiences, because one size does not fit all. This book certainly comes close, though.
Sometimes Illness Wins really hits home for me. It doesn’t postulate that there is one end all be all solution for dealing with grief, rather, it gave me the space to process my feelings and that while everyone’s experience is different, those different experiences don’t make it any less meaningful. While it can be difficult and painful to pick up those sharp pieces of grief, it is something that can be processed and worked on. It gives hope. Not a way to move on from it, because it’s more complicated than that. No, a way to move forward and that you can move forward.
A beautiful tribute to a beautiful person, who is sorely missed. “Sometimes Illness Wins” is a gift to those who may feel alone or lost within grief. Approached with grace and love for both those who have passed away (and those of us trying to find our way without them) this book serves as a hand to hold, a voice to guide, and a space to experience one’s own grief. Written and illustrated with care and a deep understanding of loss, I would recommend it to anyone who has experienced the grieving process, or anyone looking to better understand a loved one’s experience.
-Phoenix Renee (suicide attempt survivor)
As a former teacher I've seen first hand the importance of destigmatizing mental health concerns, and know how important starting these conversations are to helping future generations navigate their health and safety. I am so glad this resource now exists to help start these conversations and show children that they are not alone.
My first thought after reading Carrie and Becky's work was "Finally a great resource for grief and acknowledging all the complications that can occur! Where was this when I was practicing therapy?" When I was practicing therapy, I often encountered individuals that experienced grief and needed help to process the reality of what happened. This book succinctly gives all the information that can be really helpful for anyone going through this experience and gives the individual the opportunity to take in what they can at their own pace.
Death is something we will all encounter and we will all have to walk the path of grief. Sometimes this work is straightforward and we move through it with ease and other times it brings us to our knees. In my own opinion, western culture doesn't have a lot of great rituals or community to help us with navigating this painful life experience. There is support and rituals for the first few weeks of our grief and then we tend to be left with walking the rest of this path alone. I would say that most of us don't even begin to take in what has happened in that short of a time span that our community and rituals are involved. Sadly, from my own personal experiences and the experiences I have encountered with others, most of us tend to get ignorant unhelpful information from well-intention people. Here is a great resource that has been well researched that can provide an idea of how we can all walk this path that works best for us and not get lost.
-Shannon Nielson, MSW
"In the book biz we call it "just the right book" when we find something that fits a particular need perfectly. Sometimes Illness Wins is that book and while it is aimed at younger readers, it is helpful for all of us--especially during the pandemic when so many of us are facing either our own illness or the illness of one of our loved ones. This one will remain on our shelves forever as just the right book."
-Anne Holman, Co-owner, The King's English Bookshop
"Hey therapist friends and other humans: wanted to let you know about this amazing book on grief: "Sometimes Illness Wins." It really fills a gap in the literature on grief because it is written simply, like a picture book, so it can be comprehended and understood by someone whose brain is in shock after losing someone."
- Rebecca Ruda, CMHC
Sometimes Illness Wins is a beautiful and heartfelt picture book that talks about grief in a way accessible to both children and adults. As the words walk us through the process of grieving, the images tell us the story of a young knight grappling with grief at the loss of their friend - their horse. This story has helped me grapple with big feelings of loss. The workbook sections are also very well placed, and useful. I have bought several copies to share with my loved ones.
-Zufishan Shah, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advocate
Sometimes Illness Wins offers permission for the griever to feel their feelings. So often we stand in our own way when it comes to emotion. We choke it off, label it tiredness or depression. We lash out or stop functioning until we seem unrecognizable to ourselves and those who care about us. With Sometimes Illness Wins, a window of insight opens. Artful images set you at ease as you allow yourself to be reached, to become accessible to the painful emotions inside that long for acknowledgment and care. And the book is not prescriptive. You can do all our own feeling all your own way.
-Cassandra Perry (she/her/hers)
"The artwork, words, and love that come from this book keep me in awe that such beauty can come from sadness and hurt. My hope for this book is that it doesn’t stop there. I think there is a powerful message here for anyone who has ever suffered, ultimately that message emphasizing that it is ok to feel your feelings, and how to be honest with yourself about those feelings".
- Kim Dahle
As a Palliative Care Social Worker I have the opportunity to work a lot with families who are facing very difficult end of life situations. Trying to explain what is going on to the children can be hard for family members as well as professionals. Having a book that is both informative and interactive makes these conversations easier to have with children. Being able to hand a family a book for kids that uses language and pictures that they can understand helps so much. This book also gives children permission to write and draw about their feelings in the book. This allows for even more interactions between family members. I am so grateful to have such an amazing resource for my families.
-Heather Nenow Smith
Carrie released Sometimes Illness Wins around the time my daughter passed from her bout with cancer. Her writing, and tribute to her own daughter touched my heart and helped me accept the waves of my ever changing emotions. She genuinely addresses the uniqueness of each person’s grief process, making it easier to practice patience and compassion toward myself and others. Such a precious tribute to human resilience and capacity to face and endure life’s deepest sorrows. Every life, and every choice does matter! Thank you for your gift to us.
When my dear sister passed away several weeks ago, I felt very lost, empty, and hopeless. And then I received your beautiful and thoughtful book which left me with so much hope, inspiration, and direction - at a time dealing with grief “thank you” doesn’t seem enough for such kindness. I have since ordered a few copies which I know will be a splendid idea to share with friends and family. Again, a million thanks for a gift I will always treasure.